Outline characteristics of agrarian society, pre-industrial society, and industrial society, relating them to the ideas of Emile Durkheim and Max Weber.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Emile Durkheim and Max Weber focus on how modes of subsistence are accompanied by emerging social ideas which replace previous worldviews.

In preindustrialized societies, villages were small and there was little division of labor. Consequently, Emile Durkheim asserts that the preindustrial era depended on a common collective consciousness or a common set of beliefs on what was right and wrong. This can be viewed as a traditional way of living since groups who performed the same duties tended to adopt similar attitudes. However, the agrarian age led to advances in food production, more permanent settlements, and more leisure time.

The migration of peasants to the cities contributed to a lack of cohesive shared values. The development of urbanized areas and an increased dependence on efficiency concerned Max Weber because of their negative effects on the quality of life.

The Industrialized Age is marked by highly specialized division of labor, increased dependency on machinery, and a need to increase efficiency to the point where individuals feel trapped and alienated.

Trust between communities has eroded, according to Weber, as products and services are produced on a massive scale in large, depersonalized marketplaces and individuals become preoccupied with their own areas of expertise and ideologies.

Therefore, both Weber and Durkheim attribute social chaos to increased division of labor, but Weber focuses on the bureaucratic process and efficiency while Durkheim focuses on the fragmenting effect individual specialization has on the development of a community with shared social norms and behaviors.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial